Kevin Burns, a Niskayuna native and television producer of Netflix’s reboot âLost in Space,â among other shows, died Sunday of cardiac arrest at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 65 years old.
Burns graduated from Niskayuna High School in 1973 and went on to create Prometheus Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based company specializing in documentary, reality and non-fiction programming, in 1999. He worked at 20th Century Fox Television for over a decade ago. .
Throughout his career, he produced numerous television shows, including âAncient Aliensâ, which aired on the History channel, and âStar Wars: The Legacy Revealedâ. He received two Emmy Awards, including one for his work as executive producer on A&E’s âBiography,â which chronicles the lives of historical figures and celebrities.
âHe had an old-fashioned sense of spectacle and [was] a great executive and producer, âsaid Dan Harrison, a longtime friend of Burns and another Niskayuna graduate. Harrison is the executive vice president of programming and planning for Fox Entertainment and said he owed the start of his career in part to Burns, who gave him a job at Fox after learning they shared the same hometown.
âHe grew up right across from St. Helen’s around the corner from the synagogue property that my family has always attended,â Harrison said. He worked for Burns for four years, mainly during the summers between semesters at Cornell University.
âIt was my foot in the door at Fox and I really kicked off my career so I owe Kevin a lot,â Harrison said.
Burns later hired him to write for two episodes of A&E’s “Biography”, one on Alan Alda and the other on “MASH”.
“He’s produced hundreds of hours of cable TV and probably tens to a hundred hours of A&E ‘Biography’ on his own,” Harrison said.
Burns had a passion for old Hollywood films, according to Harrison, and for a time he taught film production at Boston University, where he graduated in 1981. He also worked on “The Curse of Oak Island â, a reality of the History channel. Nova Scotia scavenger hunt show and âThe Girls Next Door,â a reality TV series on E! centered around the Playboy Mansion. He also created “Ancient Aliens”, based on the theory that aliens have visited Earth for millions of years.
In the midst of a busy career, however, he took the time to help others in the business.
âKevin was a teacher at heart throughout his career. There are a lot of people in Hollywood who have learned from Kevin, like me. I think it was something special, âsaid Harrison.
âIt has been a wonderful, inspiring and simply amazing experience to have the privilege of working with Kevin over the past eight years,â said Derek Thielges, Vice President of Marketing and Development at Prometheus, who started in the business. company as Burns’ assistant.
âThere was no one like him I had ever met and I don’t think I will ever meet in the future. The man was loved by so many people, changed countless lives, both personally and professionally.
Many have taken to social media in recent days to thank the producer for keeping the flame alive for the “Lost in Space” reboot and for his mentorship.
âKevin Burns was generous and kind when he welcomed me into the Lost in Space family,â tweeted Maxwell Jenkins, who plays Will Robinson in âLost in Spaceâ on Netflix. âHe brought us together around stories, food and laughter. He shared the story and anchored me on this journey. I will miss him and am so grateful to have known him and to call him a friend and a mentor.
Robert Clotworthy, an âAncient Aliensâ narrator tweeted: âI’m heartbroken to learn of the passing of Mr. Kevin Burns yesterday. He wasn’t just my boss, he was my friend. He was creative, funny, generous, brilliant, tough, wise, curious, opinionated, loyal and loved life. Thanks, Kevin. You live forever in my heart.
Throughout his time in Hollywood, Burns never forgot where he came from, Harrison said. Although Burns no longer had an immediate family in the area, he was proud of his roots in the Capital Region.
âHe loved Schenectady. He loved Niskayuna High School, âHarrison said. Burns was inducted into the High School Hall of Fame in 1985, just a dozen years after graduating.
“[Kevin was] this guy from Schenectady who never lost his sense of wonder and his love of old Hollywood, âsaid Harrison.
Burns is survived by his niece Jill Anderson McIntosh.
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